Over the past number of years, companies, as well as investors and customers alike, have seen a massive boom in the marijuana industry. As a matter of fact, the cannabis sector played out as one of the hottest and most in-demand industries that investors and interested buyers can get a hold of. Dispensaries and even restaurants have taken advantage of what cannabis has to offer, including Washington, DC, the capital of the United States.
With the legalization of cannabis across 11 states and Washington, D.C. in the United States alone, most experts initially thought that the marijuana boom was here to stay. In the past few months, even during a relatively tumultuous time in 2019, one might even say that the stock market and company finances are at an all-time high.
Over the past few months, however, the cannabis industry as a whole changed more than one could ever imagine. Apart from the current situation affecting countless establishments and businesses worldwide, the impending legalization and decriminalization of the drug in various states have also posed challenges not just for buyers and consumers, but also for its respective law enforcement agencies.
The New Normal
The phrase ‘new normal’ is recently being used to refer to a new set of standards that will be treated as normal after the current situation. This ‘new normal’ could include a huge win for the cannabis industry as CEOs are anticipating nationwide legalization of the plant. This is because the marijuana sector has been categorized under essential services by 8 states during these times. These 8 states are part of the 11 that have legalized adult-use cannabis.
Cannabis sales in the country have shown significant increases in March, especially in California, Washington, Nevada and Colorado, which recorded $134 million in weekly sales. This is a 17% jump from the weekly sales during the same month back in 2019. Average purchases also increased by 47%.
Moreover, the industry is seen as a source of economic stimulus, which provides valuable results especially as the situation has made a negative economic impact not only in a few states but all over the country. In fact, various countries across the globe have been experiencing economic hardships because of this concern.
The federal legalization of marijuana would be a great opportunity to jump-start the economy as it has the potential to generate tax revenue and jobs. Cresco Labs CEO Charlie Bachtell is optimistic that the marijuana sector will be a huge help in recovering from the economic setback brought by the current situation. Bachtell also viewed the recent string of state legalization and decriminalization as significant steppingstones toward federal legalization.
Dispensaries Argue Perpetual Provisions
The current situation has prompted states to allow the delivery and curbside pickup of cannabis products. Washington, DC is one of the jurisdictions that allowed both services, along with Michigan and Louisiana. Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon and Washington all allowed only curbside pickups.
It is important to note that advocates have been calling for such services even before the unprecedented concerns. The appeals for delivery and curbside pickups could have been shelved for a long time if the current issue did not arise. However, many are worried that such services will no longer be available after the recent public health concern, as regulators may cease to allow these conveniences.
Canopy Growth Corp. US general counsel Kelly Fair noted that such changes are important for medical marijuana users. While the services could have been allowed as a way to address patients’ needs during these times, their implementation has proven to be helpful for patients and consumers.
Many industry players are positive that such provisions will continue to be implemented even after the calamity, especially as they were swiftly allowed as a response to the issue. Moreover, companies have already funneled resources to accommodate the change and to make their services much more accessible.
The Call for the Legalization of Psychedelics
Aside from the potential gains anticipated by the marijuana industry in light of and after the recent calamity, some groups are taking the step to elevate the cannabis sector in DC. The Washington, DC Board of Elections recently allowed a petition to decriminalize psychedelics to proceed to do signature campaigns.
The Board has allowed the campaigners to circulate their own petitions, which supporters can print, sign, scan, and then send back to the circulators. This eliminates the need for face-to-face signature drive, which is not possible and allowed during the present circumstances.
The campaign covers entheogenic plants and psychedelics. Cannabis, especially garden-variety ones with high delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol content, is considered an entheogenic plant. The Board’s approval could make “the investigation and arrest of adults for non-commercial planting, cultivating, purchasing, transporting , distributing, possessing, and/or engaging in practices with entheogenic plants and fungi among the Metropolitan Police Department’s lowest law enforcement priorities.”
The petition will soon be published in the District Register. Decriminalize Nature DC, the group filed the petition, plans to mail forms and educational materials to a sample of 10,000 voters. The petitioners plan to send the forms to 4 groups of residents, 3 of which involve marijuana. This includes groups that signed the ballot petition for marijuana legalization in 2014, consistent voters who did not sign the said 2014 petition, occasional voters who supported the said petition, and a random set obtained from the voter pool.
The responses for this first round will be used to study the approach for the second round. Activists are optimistic that they would gain the support of the voters should the petition appear in the November 2020 ballot. However, this is yet to be seen, especially in light of the current situation.
The Bottom Line
The marijuana industry in DC is gaining more traction because of the present circumstances. Campaigners and cannabis CEOs are optimistic about the future of the sector, especially with the recent steps taken by the authorities to adapt to a new normal. With these potential developments, the future is looking bright for the cannabis industry in the new normal.
What do you think about these new developments and the new normal we are faced to confront in the coming months?